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The Reward of Teaching

I’m delighted to be attending an IE Business School A&D event this evening – I will get to meet this year’s student cohort for the Master in Business for Architecture and Design, which is always interesting, exciting and a real honour.  

Ten years ago, I was asked to teach the HR module for a Master’s programme with IE Business School in Madrid.  At the time, I was flattered to be asked, but had a lot of learning to do myself about the School and the prestigious nature of its many architecture and design related qualifications.   One of the key attractions was the international make-up of the student body and their varying levels of experience in architecture and design.

The main challenge from my perspective was not the creation of a syllabus that was international in its reach and context – not simply relying on or relating to UK, or indeed EU, employment legislation – but that the module would be taught online!

I was offered tremendous support by IE and their tech team.  But I can still remember the abject fear of using the online platform to teach for the first time. It was not the HR bit – I so enjoyed putting the syllabus together because it really made me think and rethink about the value of HR in the architecture and design context.  A rare opportunity (at the time) to do so.  But, even whilst talking about a subject close to my heart, I was very conscious that I was missing the immediate feedback gained from teaching ‘live’ – it felt quite isolated to be sat in my office with headphones on speaking into my camera but with no faces to react to – and that my knowledge of technology was probably limiting the learning experience of the students.  As I talked about the great value that HR should be able to bring to a profession that is completely dependent upon people and what goes on in their heads, a large part of my attention was given to worrying about using the technology. What on earth is a ‘chat room’? how do I get interaction with the students?   I remember that whilst I was talking, the course director private messaged me and suggested that I asked a question.  So I did….   Ah, that’s what the chat room is……

Time moves on and the pandemic landed.  Everything went online.   I saw colleagues and associates struggling with teaching online for the first time and I could empathise with some of the challenges they were facing.  By this time, from my perspective, I was significantly more familiar with the online campus, and now we even had the opportunity to see each other!  

Teaching remains one of the work-related activities that gives me the greatest pleasure.  And, teaching the HR module for the Master in Business for Architecture and Design is perhaps the most demanding and rewarding of them all.  ………

The challenge of teaching HR and its value to professionals from the architecture and design sector, of a broad age range and experience level, from countries all over the world, makes me re-examine my views on HR, its role and priorities every time I teach it.  I learn so much from the students. Not only do we develop our knowledge of HR, but also enhance our experience of working together in an inclusive way where everyone feels heard and safe, regardless of country of origin, race, religion/belief, upbringing or, indeed, views as to the genuine value of HR to a business.

I was therefore so delighted to receive an accolade from IE University because the students in last year’s programme evaluated my module as ‘very good’.  

This all helps to make the challenge of developing knowledge and understanding of good HR practices across the creative and built environment sectors a worthwhile activity! 

“Dear Katharine

The “HUMAN RESOURCES IN CREATIVE COMPANIES” course that you have taught in the Term 3 of the Master in Business for Architecture and Design (MBArch) program, has received a very good evaluation from the students on this period.

Congratulations on these fantastic results, which prove your professional qualities and your dedication to transmitting your knowledge to our students.”